A shortened monochrome re-edit of Peter Jackson‘s King Kong by a guy named “geKKo” was posted in the summer of 2007. It’s 38 minutes shorter and an absolute improvement. It’s what King Kong might have been if the Universal suits had stood up to Jackson and told him that a nearly three-hour-long tribute to a 1933 film that ran 105 minutes was an exercise in self-mockery.
Other movies regarded as overly indulgent and/or too long have presumably been recut and posted online in similar fashion. This is how it should be now and forever. Other films could surely benefit from this process, but which?
Here are the geKKO re-edit boilerplate notes:
Original film name: King Kong
New film name: King Kong (Vintage Edition)
Film studio name: Universal
Edit crew name: geKKo
Date Original Film Was Released: December 14, 2005
Date Edit Was Released: July 18, 2007
Original Runtime: 2 hours, 57 minutes sans credits
New Runtime: 2 hours, 19 minutes.
Amount of time Cut/Added: 38 minutes
Video: 854 x 480 (16:9). H.264, 1900kbps
Audio: 48kHz, AAC, 128kbps, Stereo
Cuts removed/added/extended :
* Removed Vaudeville and great depression scenes.
* Trimmed dialogue between minor characters.
* Denham is less slapstick, more serious.
* Less sailing around in circles.
* Removed choppy slow-motion shots.
* Removed voiceover by Hayes.
* Shortened dinosaur stampede scene. No raptors.
* Removed falling rock that hits Kong.
* Deleted attack of the giant bugs.
* Removed CG juggling for Kong, who looked just as unimpressed by it as I was.
* Shortened scene with Kong on ice pond.
* Lots of other minor cuts to improve pacing. In total, over 90 cuts!
* Converted to black and white. (Oddly enough the DP at one point suggested to PJ that they shoot the film in black-and-white.)
* Added hair, dust, scratches to simulate old film.
* Added “Vintage Edition” under the main title, and re-editor credit at the end.
* Universal logo changes from color to b&w
* Added chapter markers and metadata info for Quicktime/iTunes/AppleTV.
“I actually like Peter Jackson’s King Kong a lot. But at nearly 3 hours long, the plot feels laborious at times. By cutting out a lot of exposition about the island before they find it, it actually makes the island more mysterious once they arrive. And although the CG animation to bring Kong to life is impressive, the green screen visual effects of people running with the dinosaurs looked a bit subpar. Not only that, it was really hard to believe that people could run around underneath dinosaurs and not get trampled upon. Furthermore, having raptors in the movie just made it feel too much like Jurassic Park, so that entire chase sequence was trimmed down considerably.
“The other big CG sequence that was cut is when the giant bugs start attacking. This scene was actually supposed to be in the original King Kong movie (1933) but was cut for being too scary. In the 2005 version, the purpose of this scene was to kill off some minor characters, give Jamie Bell something to do, and make Baxter look heroic by having him swoop down on a rope shooting giant arachnids with his machine gun. But in the end, it did nothing to move the story forward. We really don’t care if Baxter is a hero or not because his story doesn’t go anywhere from there. Also the bug attack came right after the big Kong vs T-Rex battle, so it seemed like an undercard fight right after the main event. Basically, I think WETA wanted to show off their CG skills by having a giant weta bug suck on Adrien Brody‘s face.
“Overall, King Kong is quite the visual effects achievement and a pretty good movie overall. It’s got a solid cast, dramatic moments, a poetic score, intense action sequences, and a little bit of comedy. I would not have re-edited it if it wasn’t a movie I liked. I have to give Peter Jackson a lot of credit for re-making this classic and for introducing the eighth wonder of the world to a new generation.”